The incinerator building and smokestack at the West Hartford Department of Public Works facility on Brixton Street have been demolished.
By Ronni Newton
Without much fanfare, but in the midst of a sudden downpour, the long-abandoned smokestack at the former West Hartford incinerator came tumbling down early Sunday morning, forever altering the landscape in the southeastern portion of town.
“The last piece of of the West Hartford incinerator came down this morning,” tweeted Director of Public Works John Phillips just after 8:30 a.m.
— West Hartford DPW (@WHPublicWorks) May 19, 2019
The rain was actually a good thing because it subdued the dust, Phillips said.
The smokestack was neither exploded nor imploded, but rather pulled down by cables attached near the bottom of the nearly 70-year-old structure. “It fell right where they wanted it to,” Phillips said.
With the demolition of the smokestack, the last vestige of West Hartford’s trash burning facility is gone. Remediation of the building that was part of the incinerator operation began in March, and the entire building was knocked down several weeks ago.
Phillips said that the smokestack was built in the early 1950s, and was operational beginning in 1954. It was last used in 1974.
“That was a very short operating life for a structure,” Phillips said. What was at the time called DEP (now DEEP, the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection) shut the facility down because it only burned material to ash at 40 percent efficiency, and was regularly blowing smoke into the City of Hartford.
“The whole thing was the town’s trash incinerator, and the town delivered, burned and buried its trash behind the facility,” Phillips said of the building and smokestack, which sits on about 24 acres on Brixton Street. For the past 40 years, although it wasn’t intended for those purposes, the building has been used in conjunction with the town’s yard waste and composting operation.
Phillips said that there was never really investment in the building, which began falling down on its own over the past several months. One wall collapsed last June, and the basement, where the electrical box was located, often flooded. “Father Time was taking his toll,” Phillips said.
A new route for accessing the back of the property has been created.
The cost of the demolition and necessary remediation is just under $1 million, Phillips said, which includes removal of an oil tank which was discovered during the process.
Phillips said that removal of the structures leaves an opening for new possibilities for the town, perhaps a modern recycling waste diversion center. “Not a dump or transfer station,” said Philips, but a modernization of the current recycling and yard waste facility to make it an operation that would be customer-friendly and safe.
Clean up of the debris from the demolition is scheduled to be complete by June 30, Phillips said.
“It changes the landscape,” he said. “In Elmwood the view of that tower has been there forever.”